Cheesecake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece .With the Roman conquest of Greece, the secret fell into Roman hands. The Roman name for this type of cake became “placenta”. They were also called “libum” by the Romans which was a sacrificial cake .It was offered to household spirits during Rome’s early history.
But how many of us aware of this fact that the only Indian Cheesecake is made in Odisha! It’s not brought by any Roman from Greece rather a person named Sudarshan Sahu, the owner of a confectionery from Nayagad invented with his own Food-skills. It all happened when he was experimenting with the left-over Chenna mixing it with some sugar and spices. He left it in an Earthen-stove over-night that was still warm from earlier use. The next day, he was pleasantly surprised to find out what a scrumptious dessert he had created. “Chenna” is nothing but a close cousin to Ricotta Cheese.
If you see the old method of Roman-Cheesecake the process is quite similar to the process that is being followed to make delicious Chennapoda. The major difference is “Chenna-poda” is Egg-less. Sadly our skillful artist is no more within us. Sudarshan Sahu passed away last year at the age of 86 leaving behind his most meritorious Invention, the art of making Queen of Desserts “Chennapoda”.
The sight of Chennapoda is very common in any sweet shop in Odisha these days in a round cake shape.There are few places who have been following the traditional method of making it. The Icing on the cake is to get the perfect crust up and down.
Traditionally the mixture of soft-chenna ,sugar and some spices is wrapped up carefully in the leafs of Sal-tree which works as a binder. Odiyas often use Sal leaves to eat upon when banana leaves are not available. After few hours when the Chennapoda is baked in an earthen stove, it looks like a burnt cheese-cake. Red hot coal is put on top of the dough too, so that the Chennapoda develops a crust on top. When you bite a slice of that, a gentle explosion of flavor fills the mouth slowly. Completely bliss…